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WNCHA Hikes With a Historian: Newton Academy and South Asheville Cemeteries

09/07/2022 @ 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

The Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA) invites you to join us for a special four-part Hikes With A Historian series where we explore the stories of several local cemeteries. Register for individual events, or for all four at a discount. The first tour, Wednesday, September 7 from 10:30AM – 12:30PM takes place in Asheville’s Newton Academy and South Asheville cemeteries.

In the early-to-mid 1800s, people enslaved by the Smith and McDowell families began burying their loved ones in what today is known as the South Asheville Cemetery. There were over 2,000 individuals laid to rest in this cemetery, which closed to burials in 1943, though only about 100 graves are marked. Join WNCHA Executive Director Anne Chesky Smith on a tour that begins at the Smith-McDowell House, WNCHA’s facility, to learn about the lives of the people who were forced to work for the family. The tour will then proceed to Fernihurst Mansion to see the original burial site of the Smith matriarch and patriarch before viewing their present-day graves in the nearby Newton Academy Cemetery. The tour will end at South Asheville Cemetery. Chesky Smith will share stories of the emancipated Avery and Bailey families alongside the Smith and McDowell families who enslaved them and speak to how the lives of these families were intertwined long after the end of the Civil War. The tour requires some walking on uneven terrain – less than .5 miles.


When: Wednesday, September 7

Time: 10:30AM – 12:30PM

Meet: 10:15AM at the Smith-McDowell House Museum, 283 Victoria Rd, Asheville, NC 28801

  • We will carpool from the Smith-McDowell House to Newton Academy Cemetery then to St. John A Baptist Church (20 Dalton St, Asheville)

Hike Length: approximately .5 miles (easy difficulty)

What to Bring: Water, snacks, comfortable and sturdy shoes, weather appropriate clothing, any needed medications.

Rain Date: In the event of inclement weather, participants will be notified in advance, no later than 8PM the evening prior if the event is to be rescheduled. The alternate rain date will be rescheduled promptly.



  • For single event – $10 for WNCHA members/$20 non-members.
  • For Series: $20 WNCHA members/$35 non-members

We also have a few no-cost, community-funded tickets available. We want our events to be accessible to as many people as possible. If you are able please consider making a donation along with your ticket purchase. These donations are placed in our Community Fund, which allows us to offer tickets at no cost to those who would not be able to attend otherwise.

Note: Those registering for the series need only to register once. You will be manually added to the other events. 

Register Here


Emergency Contact Form: Registrants must fill out the emergency contact form in advance. Those registering for the series only need to sign once. https://forms.gle/qHftZJdcMrC38JvM6

Hike Leader: Anne Chesky Smith holds MA degrees in Appalachian studies and cultural anthropology. She serves as the executive director of the Western North Carolina Historical Association and lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her family.

Covid Precautions:

  • Please do not attend if you feel unwell or have been exposed to someone with Covid
  • Social distancing is recommended when hiking and when the group is stopped

For questions, please contact Trevor Freeman at [email protected]

(Image: South Asheville and Newton Academy cemeteries)


Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA)


Smith-McDowell House
283 Victoria Rd.
Asheville, NC 28801 United States
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